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Russia retaliates for mass expulsion of its diplomats

Berlin has opted to expel over 20 Russian diplomats and Moscow is responding in kind, Russian Foreign Ministry says

Germany has decided to expel a large group of Russian diplomats from the country, the Russian Foreign Ministry revealed on Saturday, condemning the hostile move and promising a tit-for-tat response.

“We strongly condemn these actions of Berlin, which continues to defiantly destroy the entirety of Russian-German relations, including in their diplomatic dimension,” the ministry said in a statement.

The German side has tried to keep the matter secret, yet itself leaked to media information on the looming expulsions, the ministry claimed. Early in April, multiple reports by German media suggested the ejection action was spearheaded personally by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who wanted to send over 30 Russian diplomatic staff packing.

“The German side, despite its repeated assurances that it does not want to make this story public, informed media representatives…of its venture,” the ministry stated.

Moscow has opted to respond in kind to the fresh hostile move, the ministry added, without providing the exact number of diplomats to be expelled by each side. Apart from that, Moscow will be “significantly limiting the maximum number of employees of German diplomatic missions in our country,” it said.

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Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova elaborated further on the matter shortly after the statement was released, confirming to Russian media that “more than 20” diplomats will be sent home by each side.

The spokeswoman also explained that Germany had notified Russia of the upcoming expulsions some three weeks ago, yet asked Moscow to not publicize the move.

“They notified us of the expulsion, asked not to tell anybody about that, and then began to leak, as well as to deny it publicly,” Zakharova told broadcaster TV Zvezda.

Russia will send packing some 34 diplomats out of “approximately” 90 working in Moscow, German tabloid Bild reported, citing unnamed sources.

The blow is the latest in a long string of diplomatic expulsions, taken by multiple Western nations against Russia after – and, even before – the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev broke out in February 2022. The expulsions of staffers prompted tit-for-tat responses from Moscow, with the diplomatic representation falling drastically between Russia and the Western nations.

The Russian Foreign Ministry estimated last August that around 400 diplomats have been expelled from 28 countries. Moscow says it views the expulsions as “unfriendly” actions and has warned it would retaliate against all such measures.

April 22, 2023 at 08:22PM

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